As a solar equipment broker, you rely on accurate and up-to-date information to make and support business decisions. Knowing what resources provide easy access to solar policies and incentives saves you time having to hunt for information.
Why is it important for equipment brokers to know about policies and incentives? One key reason is to gain insight on solar PV demand. On one hand, a market that has established incentives to promote the advancement of solar may very well be a hot spot for buyers. On the other hand, if a market’s policies don’t support solar or make it difficult for solar to compete with other energy sources, business opportunities may not exist in this market. Accessing policies and incentives for any given market reduces your risk of doing business and may help you close the sale with a prospective buyer.
Another reason you should know this information is to ensure your business activities are compliant with the market’s law you are doing business in. Non-compliance could result in cancellations of orders from buyers, fines and penalties, and a mark against your credibility.
You’d also want to be ready with policy and incentive information in-hand when your customers come to you with questions. Connecting customers to the appropriate authoritative source builds trust between you and them. Doing a little research to help out a customer improves your reputation and may result in your happy customer referring new business leads to you. After all, anything you can do to help a customer navigate the political complexity of the industry supports the advancement of solar.
Although it is not necessary to become an expert in every policy and incentive out there, you should know enough to discern new business opportunities, reduce the risk of doing business and support your customers with questions they may have.Use the resources provided in this article as quick references to look up market-specific details and contact information to connect to regulatory officials.
5 Useful Policy and Incentives Resources for Solar Equipment Brokers
|1. RISE (Regulatory Indicators for Sustainable Energy) - The World Bank|
|2. Renewable Policies Database - IEA/IRENA|
|3. RES LEGAL - European Commission|
|4. DSIRE - Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency®|
|5. Monthly Solar Policy Snapshots - Solar Power World|
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1. RISE (Regulatory Indicators for Sustainable Energy)
RISE is a global sustainable energy scorecard created by the World Bank. Its purpose is to assess each country’s policies and regulatory support for three pillars of sustainable energy – (1) access to modern energy, (2) energy efficiency, and (3) renewable energy.
The scorecard takes into account 27 indicators for 111 countries, which amounts to 96% of the world’s population. The RISE tool was created for policymakers to use as a benchmark in developing policies and regulations that advance sustainable energy goals. But, it is also a useful resource for the solar industry to identify where in the world opportunity exists (and where to stay away from for the time-being).
Before expanding into a particular market, look up that market’s RISE score to weigh your risk of doing business in that market. RISE’s research noted in 2016 that many countries are missing opportunities because of their lack of policy creation in support of residential solar.
The site’s homepage is easy to navigate. Country snapshots rotate alphabetically for a quick view of scores.
Scrolling down, you have the option of viewing a world map. To learn more about a particular country’s score, click on the country page.
As an example, let’s look at Brazil:
Inside Brazil’s country profile, you find detailed information about each of the 27 indicators, policy framework for renewable energy and links to corresponding legal bills (Documents tab).
Another feature unique to RISE is the comparison chart. Use this tool as a visual reference to see which countries are scoring high on the seven renewable energy indicators – (1) Legal framework, (2) Planning for expansion, (3) Incentives and regulatory support, (4) Attributes of financial and regulatory incentives, (5) Network connection and use, (6) Counterparty risk, and (7) Carbon pricing and monitoring.
Note that the World Bank updates the RISE database every two years. In addition, the World Bank and partnering agencies provide a free Energy Progress Report that tracks global progress made on the targets of Sustainable Development Goal 7 – to ensure universal energy access, double progress on energy efficiency and sustainably increase the share of renewable energy by 2030.
2. Renewable Policies Database
The Renewable Policies Database provides information on country and region-specific renewable energy-related policies. The International Energy Agency (IEA) maintains the database. Delegates from IEA-member countries review published information twice a year.
This database offers a high-level overview of policies for each reporting country. Country and region indices make it easy to select the country/region you are interested in.
You can also add filters to sort policies including sector, policy type, topic, technology, status, jurisdiction and source.
For example, let’s take a look at Australia's list of active policies. Filtering by Australia and the topic "Renewable Energy", we get 129 results. You can view the year that the policy went or will go into effect, the status and the jurisdiction.
If you want to see policy-specific details, click on the link of the policy you are interested in. As an example, let's look at Australia's Solar Homes Program, which has been in effect since 2018 and expected to expire on June 30, 2021.
The IEA provides a brief description of the rebate program as well as a link to Australia's municipal page.
3. RES LEGAL
RES LEGAL is an initiative of the European Commission. This website presents legislation information on support schemes, grid issues and policies for renewable energy sources. You can access information on a total of 41 European countries for three energy sectors: electricity, heating & cooling and transportation.
This resource provides a quick-access, country-specific look-up, including relevant contact information for each country’s governmental entities.
Let’s look at an example. When you click on Turkey, you get the following brief summary and contact information for Turkish regulatory offices listed on the right.
If you want to learn more about the guaranteed feed-in tariff, click on the Electricity button. You can drill down to the details regarding the feed-in tariff, including eligibility and amount.
As you can see in this example, RES LEGAL references specific legislation for every topic. If you need to reach out to a country’s regulatory official for more information, you can mention the legal code.
Note that RES LEGAL was last updated in January 2019. The European Commission has terminated the project. Therefore, you should verify a country’s information you obtain from RES LEGAL with the appropriate governmental entities.
4. DSIRE - Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency®
If you are doing business in the United States, refer to the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE) for information on policies and incentives from state to state, including DC and U.S. territories. You can also review federal programs as well. DSIRE is updated regularly by the North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center and is free to access.
This database is the most comprehensive resource for state-specific policies and incentives. United States regulations can be tricky to navigate because state law may differ greatly from federal law. Plus, laws have been changing frequently because of the energy revolution occurring throughout the country. Having one source of information to refer to helps keep track of laws and incentives.
DSIRE also makes it easy to apply filters that narrow search results. A brief overview of each program is presented along with a summary, authorities and contact information.
For example, if you want to clarify the incentive amount for the federal Personal Tax Credit as it phases down over the next few years, click on the link to read the program overview.
DSIRE also offers free resources for developers, policymakers, researchers and the general public in the site’s Resources tab.
Note that DSIRE is not intended to be used by importers and exporters to look up tariffs and VAT duties. For U.S. trade resources, check out the article, Exporting Wholesale Solar Equipment.
5. Monthly Solar Policy Snapshots
At the beginning of each month, Solar Power World publishes a guide to recent legislation and research across the United States. You can access these monthly snapshots on SPW’s website or by subscribing to their newsletter.
This resource is useful for getting a quick overview of what’s happening in the political scene right now. You can follow the status of proposed bills as well as read about new bills that are passed into legislation. Usually, SPW and other trade publications are the first to report on new bills. So, if you want to be one of the first to know what’s happening in any given U.S. market, stay on top of the news.
Updates on research reports are additional tools to glean market intelligence. For instance, one report included in June’s snapshot quantifies the benefits of community solar in the State of Minnesota. It comes at a time when the Minnesotan legislature is considering various proposals that could strengthen or weaken the pending policy HF 2208 – Community Solar Gardens. This policy would expand the role of community solar throughout the state. If this policy is signed into legislation, it would create increased demand for community solar in Minnesota. Take some time to skim the research behind bill creation to get a pulse of new business opportunities on the horizon.
Leverage your knowledge
Staying up-to-date on legal issues affecting the solar industry gives you a competitive edge. Oftentimes, business opportunities result in your being in the right place at the right time and ready to act. The resources provided in this article deliver quick access to policies and incentives. Use this knowledge to carve new opportunities, reduce the risk of doing business and support your customers.
Knowing general policies that affect your market(s) is one way to achieve high-level business goals and sustainability in a competitive field. Read more wholesale solar equipment broker best practices.